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Barney Francis Takes Over As VP/Head Of Global Production For IMG

“Francis helped turn Sky Sports into one of the leading international sports television providers, and now he is taking those talents to IMG.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Stella Pictures

Deadline reports that IMG called on a new voice to lead their production business. Former Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis is IMG’s new vice president, head of global production, after spending two decades at Sky Sports.

Francis helped turn Sky Sports into one of the leading international sports television providers, and now he is taking those talents to IMG. Adam Kelly, IMG Co-President of Media & Events, said that Francis is a “transformative hire” with “undeniable pedigree, drive and resolve.”

“As a key member of my leadership team, he will play a catalytic role in our strategic growth and development plans as we evolve our model to better empower rights holders to develop and deliver innovative, multiplatform content that engages fans directly,” Kelly added.

Francis was a driving force for Sky Sports’ growth from 5 to 11 channels. All while helping broker deals with properties like the NBA, Formula 1, The Open Championship, the Masters, and expanded coverage of the Premier League.

“As consumption habits continue to change,” Francis said. “The offering we’ll debut will help teams, leagues, and federations reach new and existing fans in creative and compelling ways. IMG is the industry standard for sports production, and I’m really excited to join such an exceptional team.”

Francis is working tightly with IMG’s production business chairman, Graham Fry. The latter is retiring at the end of next year. The Sky Sports veteran was the network’s executive producer on cricket and soccer. Francis had his fingerprints on a litany of innovations while at Sky Sports.

The company added new developments in 3D, Ultra HD, virtual reality, and celebrated the continued growth of Sky Sports’ digital, social and online presence. Francis will have time to enjoy some of the fall leaves before starting his new role at IMG in early November.

Sports Online

Sportsbooks, Casinos Ask AG To Crackdown on Offshore Books

“Now, the group is getting some backing from members of Congress.”

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Offshore sportsbooks are a problem according to the American Gaming Association. The trade group representing American casinos and sportsbooks has sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Justice Department to crackdown on their unregulated operation.

The AGA initially sent its letter at the end of last month. Now, the group is getting some backing from members of Congress. Twenty-four members sent a letter of their own to Garland encouraging prosecutions.

On top of that, individual members of the trade group have begun speaking to CNBC about the toll offshore books are taking on their business. That includes FanDuel CEO Amy Howe, who estimates as much as $15 billion has been lost to offshore competition that doesn’t have to pay state or local taxes or spend money on lobbying lawmakers.

“It gives them an unfair competitive advantage. They can offer better odds to the consumer,” Howe said.

She added that she wonders how many players even know those books are illegal. That is something AGA CEO Bill Miller says requires action.

“Educating the public that is generally unaware of whether they’re betting on illegal sites or illegal sites is a job for all of us.” 

Fifteen billion dollars is no insignificant amount of money. Miller says when that large of a share of the market disappears to illegal operators, it cannot be ignored by those that enforce the law.

“What maybe at one point in time was a relative nuisance, is now becoming a serious threat to the legal, licensed gaming industry.”

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Sports Online

Casey Wasserman: Sunday Ticket Deal A “Transition to the Future of Media”

“I do think they go to a tech company or a someone who is solely focused on streaming those games,” Wasserman predicted. “That’s the next generation of monetization of those fans.”

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Casey Wasserman

At the annual Sun Valley Conference, an annual media finance conference, Casey Wasserman the founder and CEO of Wasserman, the owners of the largest sports agency, was in attendance.

He joined CNBC’s Power Lunch and was asked about the NFL Sunday Ticket negotiations which are still ongoing. Specifically, he was asked what would it mean if the NFL Sunday Ticket package went to a stream-only buyer like Apple or Amazon.

“I think it’s the begging of a transition to what people think the future of media is going to be like,” Wasserman said. “Sunday Ticket is sort of a precursor to streaming given that it was on DirecTV and subscription. It gives someone like an Apple or Amazon or whoever might buy it, hundreds of games a year to deliver to their fans in a very meaningful way and ways to experiment around those broadcasts”.

Wasserman was also asked if he thinks those rights will go to a streaming service.

“I do think they go to a tech company or a someone who is solely focused on streaming those games,” Wasserman predicted. “That’s the next generation of monetization of those fans. Given the 100+ million fans in the United States of the NFL, a streaming platform that has the ability to direct the focus to those games to those fans is a really powerful platform”.

Wasserman did not think there would be a surge in cord-cutting if more streaming services got into live sports. But he also added that streaming would add revenue to leagues and not detract from. “It’s a really powerful opportunity for the next 10 years. And what sports is, it’s predictable and unique in a world where almost nothing else is”

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Sports Online

Blue Wire, a Sports Podcasting Company, Raises $2.5 Million

Blue Wire has made progress stating it is on track to generate $10.3 million of revenue this year which tops last year’s earnings of $4.8 million and $1 million in 2020.

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Blue Wire

Podcasting is a wonderful platform of expression. The question about podcasting has always been about making it a profitable venture. Blue Wire is seeking to do that as well.

The company, which has 250 podcasts, has just raised $2.5 million of funding. Blue Wire has raised $11.4 million since it’s founding in 2018.

The company is in business with the podcasts of former NFL player Chris Long, former NBA player Richard Jefferson, Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson and Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby.

Blue Wire has made progress stating it is on track to generate $10.3 million of revenue this year which tops last year’s earnings of $4.8 million and $1 million in 2020. Kevin Jones, Blue Wire’s founder, says the company hopes to achieve profitability in 2023 where he estimates $23 million in revenue and 250 million podcast downloads.

“Purse strings are tighter,” Jones remarked. “They were a little looser in previous years, which was great for us. Everyone still has a match out there. If your company is growing fast and you have the metrics, you should be able find a handful of folks, but it’s getting harder. There are a lot more No’s and the process is going to take entrepreneurs longer to raise capital, at least that’s what we’re running into.”

But Jones has heard ‘yes’ before. Wynn Resorts invested $3.5 million in Blue Wire last year in an effort to also promote its WynnBET online sports betting product. Blue Wire has a 1,700-square-foot podcasting studio at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, where the company tapes at least 35 hours of podcasts per week.

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